Hill Barn is municipal course based in West Sussex that over the years has had a little stick. We’ve all played it before in different conditions and with differing skill levels in our games. We’ve heard great things over the past few years and were very happy to be invited to play and provide some feedback along with this review.
From the moment you drive towards Worthing (the home of Hill Barn Golf Course along with two others) you realise you are going to be treated. The rolling South Downs one side and the English Channel the other the provide some truely great views.
We arrived at 7:00 for a 7:18 tee off on Saturday morning and although it was far colder than we thought, the sun was promised and we were excited to be there. Driving in you are greated with a good sized car park and a welcoming clubhouse. There is a pro onsite, a superb pro shop which is jam packed with goods and helpful staff.
It was two all in the inter 3MIB team event we run where the losing pairing buys the curry so all was to play for. We decided on a fun event which would keep the match alive until the last. A format called Daytona – it truely is never over.
Back to the golf course. Its been a torrid 3 months of weather with the wettest winter on record. However we were pleased to hear that Hill Barn has done some major drainage work and feel that they have faired very well as a result. It had rained hard again leading up to our round and a bit more overnight, but we were only greeted with 3 temporary greens (all lying very low at the club – no real surprise) but a valient effort. Some winter tees were still in force but that was also expected and absolutely fine.
The overall condition of the course was superb. Better than we can ever remember it used to be and great for the time of year and the conditions we have had. Fairways were clean and tidy, not boggy and there was no standing water in site. Bunkers were tidy and sand was good. We were even allowed Trolleys – result!! Overall great work from the Green Keeper and his team!
Brief run through of the course and what we thought of it.
- 1st – 325 yards – A nice gentle par four to start with. Fairly innocuous, but avoid the fairway traps. 3 wood is plenty for longer players. Leaving an approach to a green which is nicely dropped from the fairway so messes a little with your mind. Go at it but dont go long!
- 2nd – 460 yards – Great par four this and one of a few decent length par fours out on the golf course. You need to hit a big drive, left of the pole and past it to give you a chance of the green. The approach is shorter than you think due to the massive drop. The car park lingers to the right hand side, so avoid the slice. Temp green for our round, but the main green looked like a great landing area for a long high iron.
- 3rd – 380 yards – Fairly basic par 4 this until you hit the sloping green. Placement of your second or third onto the putting surface will dictate if you’ve got a 3 putt coming or can cosy it to the flag for a 2 putt.
- 4th – 305 yard tempting Par 4 this one for the longer hitters. Especially those with some right to left shape and when the fairways are rolling. Its up hill but the sensible play is a shot up the right hand side allowing you to approach the green without having to contend with the monster bunker ready to catch anything going left. Find that trap and you cant see a thing and will need to be a good bunker player to escape with par.
- 5th – Tidy little Par 3 this one. At 134 yards its a short one, but there is a good elevation change to get you thinking and plenty of sand to catch those short ones. As with many holes here you dont really want to be too far from the hole as the green can do some things you’lll not have read.
- 6th – This is 346 yards round the dog leg, and boy what a dog leg. Yes it can be driven over the trees and some people will go for it, but its so blind and there is enough danger around the place to not really make it worthwhile. So lay up to the corner with your 200 yard stick then hit in from there. Take a par and carry on – this hole can steal a ball or three!
- 7th – Another par 4 at 294 yards, a straight line after the beastly dogleg, you need the respite this brings. The green isn’t the simplest, but its a good birdie chance.
- 8th – Measuring just 266 yards this is a short par 4 – If you can carry your drive about this far then its one to have a pop at really, although the up and down for a birdie from around the green can be tough. The green is elevated from the fairway so a lay up isn’t much easier than a green side bunker. When else do you get a chance of hitting a par 4 green. Get the driver out and have a go!
- 9th – The short holes are fast forgotten with this long tree lined par 4. Its not too tight, so pull the driver out again and get as far down as poss. You’ll need it to take as short a club as you can into this 441 yard par four.
- 10th – A wander through the trees takes you to another par 4 measuring 353 yards Par 4 with the practice area to the right. We saw the resident pro teaching the juniors while we went past which was great to see. Its another birdie chance but you’ve got to get close to the flag – there is a pattern here on these greens! Birdies are there if you are close, 3 putts are easy if you are not.
- 11th – Hill Barns signature hole is 174 yards and absolutely surrounded by bunkers, some easier than others as Matt and Paul found out… Wonderful hole. Go long, don’t be short, left or right!
- 12th – A lovely 325 yard par 4 played from an elevated tee box. Take as much of the drop out as you can and hit your second up to the green between to fairway bunkers onto a fairly flat green.
- 13th – A far longer par 4 which almost mirrors the previous in its layout, except the extra length means even the longest hitters will be hitting a decent club into the elevated green. A stunning hole and a punishing one if you come up short in the summer I am sure. 423 yards.
- 14th – A nice hole this at 374 yards. Too far left is OB but the fairway slants massively from the left and the green is slightly round to the left. You must aim down the left and let the fairway take the ball into the right half of the fairway. A nicely protected green with bank around the back is pretty approachable.
- 15th – Once you’ve got your breath back from the walk up an area dubbed ‘cardiac hill’ you can take a look at a long par 4 measuring 446 yards. There is a fairway pole which you need to aim at as you cannot see the green from the tee. Get as far up as poss and make your approach from wherever you end up. Don’t go too far left. Right is safer.
- 16th – Another long par 4 at 466 yards and another hole where you have a pole to aim at and OB all the way down the left. Tighter drive than the last this one and only the very longest hitters will find a view of the green for their second shot. Walk forwards work out which tree to aim at and go hit your ball. Take a club or two off and hope you get on Ok. Lovely hole.
- 17th – This is a par 3 measuring around 220 yards from the whites and a little less from the yellow. But still a monster. A decent amount of well placed bunkers will catch short and right balls, the green has drop offs and a great slope so its going to be a great two and a relieved 3 if you can get one and move on to the last.
- 18th – At 513 yards its not a long par 5, but you need to keep the drive left and it will filter down to the fairway below. Don’t go too far left as its trees, OB or short left and you’ll not have much of a shot. Be sensible with the second and you’ll find a short iron approach is a welcome end to the round. Perhaps even a birdie…
To sum it up, Hill Barn is a massively enjoyable golf venue, we cant wait to visit again in the summer. We’ve got a feeling the greens will be faster, the sloping fairways more punishing as the ball runs away and the views even better!! Looking forward to it already.
What the others thought:
Neal - I really liked the course. Although not a long course there are some very testing holes. Some holes are very tight and require pin point accuracy, you get it wrong a double bogey awaits! The signature Par 3, hole 11 is fantastic and was definately my favourite hole on the course. A great hole to view and play, surrounded by bunkers it could easily be a hole in one of the majors! The course was in great condition all-round from tee to green and would thoroughly recommend a visit, great work Hill Barn!
Matt – It was really nice to play a full round of golf on 18 holes. It’s been a while! The course was in excellent condition considering the weather we have been having. This is a massive credit to the staff at Hill Barn. It shows they really care about their course and the players. I’ve always enjoyed rounds at Hill Barn as there is a good mixture of holes in terms of length and difficulty. Can’t wait to go back in the summer and try it out in dry conditions.
Stu While a large majority of golf courses in the area are struggling to deal with the amount of rainfall over the last few months Hill Barn golf course has clearly managed the situation well, although we did experience 2 temps, I only saw 1 puddle on the whole course, and that was walking to the next tee. A massive congratulation must go to the green keepers for getting the course in such a good state!
Check out the images below from our round!